Selling Local Lures = More Profit

Don’t overlook local lure makers when considering options for your store to help increase sales and fulfill your customers’ needs.

Selling Local Lures = More Profit

Supporting local businesses has become an effective way for independent tackle shop owners to increase sales and fulfill their customers’ special needs.

Building personal relationships with hometown tackle manufacturers and selling their products give independent tackle stores a better chance to compete with the big-box stores.

“I think you get a little better consistency of product dealing direct with our manufacturers and with a lot of the smaller companies,” Extreme Outdoors store owner Kelly Power said. “Plus it gives us an opportunity to have pricing we can compete with. A lot of the big-box stores force manufacturers to take their margins to a point where they don’t make any money, and then the big stores turn around and retail sell their products at prices to where we can’t compete with them.”

Panfish and perch are found throughout the country, and local lure makers who know the hot colors and patterns can be a hit with your store’s anglers.
Panfish and perch are found throughout the country, and local lure makers who know the hot colors and patterns can be a hit with your store’s anglers.

Extreme Outdoors in Branson West, Missouri, deals with about 15 local lure companies, and approximately 40 percent of the store’s fishing tackle is supplied by mom-and-pop tackle manufacturers, according to Power. He believes the smaller manufacturers are moving away from the big stores and offering their products to the smaller tackle shops because the independent stores give their products more personalization than the box stores.

“We are a lot more personable with our customers, and we talk to the angler who comes in on a regular basis,” Power said. “We can also help customers dial in the correct baits for that time of year.”

Although Gary’s Tackle Box in Gainesville, Florida, sells a small percentage of local products, store owner Gary Simpson firmly believes in doing business with hometown tackle manufacturers.

“Unfortunately, there just aren’t that many to choose from here,” said Simpson, whose store sells freshwater and saltwater tackle. “When the opportunity arises, we will sure give Florida manufacturers a closer look than we would someone else. If they have something we think we can sell at a price we think we can sell it at, we will surely give them a chance.

“It is always just a positive thing to support local manufacturers the same way it is important for local consumers to support the local businesses,” Simpson said. “We shouldn’t expect to have good loyal customers among fishermen in the area if we don’t in turn support the manufacturers who make something that we can sell locally.”

Supporting local businesses is an effective way for independent tackle shop owners to  increase sales and meet customers’ special needs.
Supporting local businesses is an effective way for independent tackle shop owners to increase sales and meet customers’ special needs.

Building Relationships

Independent tackle shops have built their relationships with local manufacturers in a variety of ways.

“Some of them are friends and some are individuals who have a passion for their product as much as we do for selling it,” Power said. “So it builds a stronger relationship.”

Power sets up a contract with each local manufacturer and buys directly through the local companies rather than through a wholesaler. “All the vendors have minimums that they would like you to buy,” he said. “We try to spend some time being very specific with what they’ve got for this market, but we order the stuff based on minimums or the amount of the product sold.”

One local business Power deals with is Five Fish Lures Company, owned by Bassmaster Elite Series pro Brian Snowden, Table Rock Lake guide Pete Wenners, regional tournament competitor Bobby Albert and Mike Knight. Power is an accomplished tournament angler who has developed longtime friendships with Snowden, Wenners and Albert while competing against them in various bass tournament trails.

Captain Chucks II Inc., in Ludington, Michigan, promotes “Fish Michigan Brands” on the store’s website. Store owner Scott Keegstra estimates about 50 percent of his inventory is supplied by Michigan companies. “A lot of the local companies are a staple in this community,” Keegstra said. “These guys have been around forever. I know all of them on a personal basis.” The local manufacturers Keegstra mainly deals with are Moonshine Lures, Dreamweaver Lures and Yeck Lures.

Working directly with the manufacturers is one reason Mark Whitlock Jr., general manager of Mark’s Outdoor Sports in Vestavia Hills, Alabama, stocks products made locally. “You get to talk to the owners and the people who are producing the actual product,” Whitlock said. “Kind of getting an insider’s perspective is always helpful so we can pass that along to a customer.”

Whitlock estimates about 15-20 percent of his fishing tackle stock comes from local companies. “We probably have a dozen companies that are just in Birmingham or just outside Birmingham,” he said.  Whitlock receives products from one local crappie lure maker; the rest of his local company partners produce bass baits. 

Customers telling Whitlock about new products has helped the store manager connect with local manufacturers throughout the years. He said the store also attracted a lot of attention from local manufacturers who fished in the Mark’s Outdoors Lay Lake Open bass tournament held annually for 18 years. Those tackle company owners eventually visited Mark’s Outdoors and asked if they could stock their products in the store.

Spinnerbaits are great lures to buy from local makers because they have name recognition and may come in specific colors not offered by big companies.
Spinnerbaits are great lures to buy from local makers because they have name recognition and may come in specific colors not offered by big companies.

Driving Sales

Power notices he can spot hot trends in lures easier from working with local companies, which drives more sales for his store.

“Most of the local companies like Five Fish Lures have guys who are very active in the community doing fishing reports and telling guys what is going on,” Power said. “We see from Pete (Wenners) when he does his fishing report on Facebook and talks specifically about a certain bait that is catching fish better, for probably five to 10 days afterward we see an up-tick in that product sold.”

Power also has observed an increase in sales when a local bass tournament is won on a lure produced by one of the hometown manufacturers. Some of the best-selling locally made lures at Extreme Outdoors are the ones competitive anglers have won or placed high with in tournaments at lakes in the region such as Truman, Table Rock, Lake of the Ozarks, Grand Lake o’ the Cherokees and Bull Shoals, according to Power.

By working closely with local businesses, Power finds out from the companies what products local anglers are requesting the most. He can also discover what baits are working best in his area by looking at posts from anglers on the local lure company’s Facebook page.

Another way local tackle companies can drive sales for an independent tackle shop is by delivering special orders to the store. “They are more likely to ship you just one or two items for a special order without a penalty than the bigger guys would be,” Simpson said.

“Depending on how good a relationship is, you can have direct feedback from our customers saying they like this bait but they wished we had this color,” Whitlock said. “Then you can tell the owner of the company, ‘we got people asking for this,’ and they sometimes can make specific colors just for our store to appease our customers.”

Local companies produce specialty colors that Captain Chuck’s II customers frequently request at the store. “With those companies being right here, it makes it a little easier to get the colors the guys and gals are looking for,” Keegstra said. “The comment we often hear is that Gander Mountain or Cabela’s doesn’t carry that color. We do hear that quite a bit.”

Power also takes advantage of a smaller company’s ability to quickly deliver hot new colors.

“We can go to guys like Pete Wenners at Five Fish Lures and tell him this color is really hot and guys seem to like it, which then gives him the input to build something different,” Power said.

Independent tackle shop owners who sell local products notice local manufacturers work harder to keep in good stead with the store.
Independent tackle shop owners who sell local products notice local manufacturers work harder to keep in good stead with the store.

Fast, Dependable Service

Independent tackle shop owners who sell local products notice local manufacturers work harder to keep in good stead with the store. “Any time you work with someone local, you usually have someone just breaking into the business, and they really pay close attention to you as an account,” Simpson said.  “You are not just another little customer of theirs.”

The store owners know they can get faster service by dealing directly with small local companies than by ordering national manufacturers’ products via a tackle rep. Whitlock said he has the cell phone numbers of all his local tackle manufacturers, and he usually sees them every week or every two weeks. He suggests reps from the big tackle companies might come only once a month. 

Whitlock notices that when the smaller tackle makers visit his store, they bring “a whole bunch of inventory” and refill whatever the store sold. “They are usually pretty easy to deal with, especially when they self-manage their own section, because they know that is their livelihood,” Whitlock said. “They don’t mind putting in a little extra work to make sure their products sell.”

Power knows he can count on the local companies to send a company representative, such as a pro staff member, for his store’s open house events in the spring and fall. “It is a great opportunity for those tackle companies to have a little more interaction with their customer bases,” Power said. He also suggests that interaction increases sales at his store during the special event.

Increased sales and fast, dependable service makes selling locally made products a popular option for today’s independent tackle stores.



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